If you're in your late teens, the idea of getting older is scaring the life out of you, and you have way too many instances of feeling like Peter Pan screaming, "I DON'T WANT TO GROW UP," you just might be having a quarter life crisis.
First of all, what is it? A QLC, as we like to call it, is when you have spent your childhood and adolescence completely relaxed, and all of a sudden, BAM! The real world hits you. Jobs, finances, taxes, heavy workload, lack of parental assistance, bills and all of that stuff that no one ever wants to deal with. It's basically a mid-life crisis, but it’s experienced 20 years earlier.
Having a QLC is now pretty common, and it's not just known as a fear of growing up - it's actually been given a real name! There are countless magazine articles and blogs with words of encouragement for how to get over those trying times as a 20-something. Temple University has even made a mini TV series documenting common troubles, as the main characters go on a journey of self-discovery. The word on the street is that going through a QLC is actually pretty normal, and it's definitely acceptable to be scared and nervous about venturing into the big bad real world.
The pressure to graduate and get an incredibly high paid, reputable job as soon as you walk out the door is intense and makes young adults feel way too much stress to be successfully instantly. This is especially true for the driven, hard-working young adults, who put additional pressure on themselves to be super successful.
The mediocre, average life is not for this current generation, and it means people are trying to move away from home earlier and trying to stand on their own two feet. As great as it sounds, most of us don't have the financial stability to move out as soon as we graduate, or finish school, so the race against time to land a high-paying job is on. The awkward transition into adulthood becomes more than a fear of growing up; it becomes a CRISIS.
Of course, we aren't the first group of people to experience such a crisis, and I'm sure every single generation prior to us had the same anxiety and pressure, but we are the only ones breaking down with such intensity because of it. Because of the pressure, we refer to this time in our lives as a crisis, and we have actually developed a pretty strong argument for why it should be regarded as so.
Here are some tips to avoid, or simply deal with, a QLC:
1. SWITCH OFF.
Set aside time to put your phone away, stop checking emails and getting increasingly stressed about what you have left to do. You’ll find yourself saying, "Ah, tonight I have two hours to catch up on Modern Family and stuff my face with a gallon of ice-cream. AND I DON'T FEEL BAD."
2. Spend time with friends.
You're likely to have other friends who feel the same and feel the pressure like you do, so if you hang out with them, you'll be able to help each other through it. Sharing normal worries and fears about life and growing up with someone who gets it is the best form of therapy.
3. Don't overwork yourself.
It's great to be ambitious and aim higher, but don't put too much on your plate. If you know you only have two days spare each week to focus on projects or do school work, it's a bad idea to start writing for five different online websites, or accepting a part-time job on top of babysitting three times a week. It's better to do a few things and all of your effort into them than to spread yourself thin and do everything in a rush.
4. Learn to say 'NO.'
This will be the best thing for you. If you seek to do loads of things and hate turning down opportunities, you need to learn to say no. If your ambition is to be a fashion stylist or photographer, and someone offers you an internship at a finance magazine, while that may have some slight relevance to your future career, ultimately, it's not really going to help you down the road. You need to keep yourself on the right path and learn to say 'NO' to things that aren't relevant to you.
5. Remember, don't take things too seriously.
Work to live; don't live to work. While a good career foundation is crucial, there are so many more important things in life. Don't allow work to consume you and be the only thing you focus on. It's not the end of the world! Family, friends and great memories are a huge part of life, so don't let the stress and anxiety you're feeling take over, making you forget what life is really about!
QLC people, if you remember anything, take away this one thing: taking a time and going slow is okay. Success will come with hard work, dedication and a bit of trial and error. This time of your life is completely normal to go through. Sure, some people get lucky and end up writing TV shows, or starring in TV shows, or writing blogs and getting paid for it, or maybe starring in reality TV shows that aren’t really about anything.
We can all sit there stuffing our faces with chips, pizza and chocolate, as we’re yelling at the TV in jealousy and rage, but let's be honest, most of us aren't going to have success handed to us. We just have to accept this strange, bizarre thing we call life, and let it play out the way it’s supposed to.
Don't worry! If you’re going through a quarter life crisis, it will get better! Then, you’ll have twenty years to recover before it's time to start worrying about your midlife crisis...